Seductive Veggies: What's in a Name?

A recent study in the US found that sales for vegetables at the Stanford cafeteria jumped 25% when ‘indulgent’ labels were applied.  The experiment applied four different types of labels to vegetables:


·      Basic – description was only the name of the vegetable, ‘carrots’

·      Healthy restrictive – ‘carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing’

·      Health positive – ‘smart-choice Vitamin C citrus carrots’

·      Indulgent – ‘twisted citrus-glazed carrots’


Researchers found that the ‘indulgent’ vegetables were chosen by 25% more people than basic-labelled vegetables, 41% more people than healthy restrictive-labelled vegetables, and 35% more people than health positive-labelled vegetables.  When most people are deciding what to eat, they are motivated by taste.  Studies show that people tend to think healthier foods aren’t as tasty as other options, but when the choice architecture changed, so did people’s behaviour.


How can we apply the same labels to healthcare marketing to make products more appealing to customers?  Let’s use a popular OTC pain reliever as an example.


·      Basic – Advil (ibuprofen)   

·      Healthy restrictive – Non-addictive pain reliever

·      Health positive – Fast-acting formula (stops pain in minutes)

·      Indulgent – ‘Nothing is proven to work faster’ or ‘#1 Doctor recommended for pain relief’


While choice is complex, you can imagine the impact each label might have.  How can you reframe your products to become more emotionally salient to customers and change the choice architecture to favour your product?